Summit Instructors, Present and Past
Here are some of the amazing musicians that have made Summit School great, in no particular order:
Natalie Babij (Bluegrass Band)
Natalie began playing mandolin in her early 20s after going to some bluegrass shows that sparked her soon-to-be obsession with the genre. When she moved to Vermont, she joined like-minded musicians to form the band Two Cents in the Till and performed around the area from 2014 to 2021. She is active in the central/northern Vermont bluegrass scene, often found at open bluegrass jams (including those she hosted for several years at Sweet Melissa's in Montpelier and Stone Corral in Richmond), and occasionally making guest appearances with local bluegrass bands. She also teaches private mandolin lessons.
Ted Ingham (Intermediate/Advanced Clawhammer Banjo)
Ted took up the banjo in the mid-1990’s after playing the guitar for 20 years. He has attended old-time music workshops and festivals since, and learned from master banjo players such as Tom Mackenzie, Pete Sutherland, and Dan Margolies. Ted has taught clawhammer classes for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students at the Summit School since 2008. He has also served on the Summit School Board since its inception, and is currently the Board Chair. In addition to teaching, Ted plays banjo with “Kick ‘Em Jenny,” a volcanic old-time stringband from Central Vermont:https://www.facebook.com/kickemjennyvt/
Tom has been a musician for more than forty years now. His main instruments are the Banjo and Hammered Dulcimer but he can move around with comfort on Guitar, Ukulele and Keyboard. His style has been described and subtle and understated, but at the same time, complex. He performs regularly with the Woods Tea Company but can also be found at many dances, weddings and sessions around the region. Tom is a wonderful teacher who is able to key in on individual needs and tailor the experience to go in whatever direction the student would like to explore. Patience and the willingness to wander from the lesson plan are his strong suits.
Pete Sutherland (Pete's Favorites, Old-Time Southern Fiddle, Clawhammer Banjo)
A warm-voiced singer, songsmith and accomplished multi-instrumentalist known equally for his potent originals and his intense recreations of age-old ballads and fiery fiddle tunes, veteran Vermont-based musician Pete Sutherland has been on staff at dance and music camps and workshops coast-to-coast and is a widely-known year-round teacher and performer at home. Sutherland is a veteran of many touring and recording groups including METAMORA, RHYTHM IN SHOES, THE WOODSHED ALLSTARS and IRA BERNSTEIN's TEN TOE PERCUSSION, and is a founding member of the long-running 'contradance jam band' THE CLAYFOOT STRUTTERS. His latest ensemble is the multi-generational trio PETE'S POSSE.
Composer, accordionist, and pianist Jeremiah McLane brings together French, Celtic and North American Roots music in a style that is at once exuberant and introspective, tender and passionate. He places familiar sounds in unusual settings, and combines a gift of improvisation with a keen appreciation for the power of melody.
Susan Reid has played for dances for many years and was a founding member of "Home Grown Chestnuts" which played traditional contra dances for several years at the Capital City Grange. She has taken contra dance band classes with Jeremiah McLane, and worked and studied with David Kaynor, fiddler and caller extraordinaire. Susan's fiddle style is clean and easy to learn from, and her fun-loving, inclusive, attitude toward music and musicians is well known in Central Vermont.
Heidi Wilson is a singer songwriter with a passion for sharing original compositions and folk songs inspired by and in service to community and the natural world: songs that celebrate the seasons, offer thanks and praise, lull babies to sleep, muster courage, and make room for healing. She has been leading a cappella singing groups for the last twelve years. Heidi leads the Plainfield Community Sing, directs the Ollabelles, has taught vocal and instrumental courses at the Summit School for Traditional Music and Culture and is an instructor for Village Harmony.
Avery Book is a Burlington-based singer, teacher, songleader, and community organizer. He tours regularly with the Starry Mountain Singers, the Starry Mountain Trio, and Tenores de Aterúe, a male quartet that focuses on the cantu a tenore tradition from Sardinian. Avery also studies and teaches songs of struggle from social movements past and present. He is a founder of the Burlington Solidarity Singers, and has been teaching and leading songs to local social justice organizations. He also leads his own singing workshops, and is a regular teacher with Village Harmony.
An internationally acclaimed clarinetist, accordionist and pianist, Zoe Christiansen, has performed extensively in Europe, Russia, the U.S. and Canada. A graduate of New England Conservatory, she has taught for NEC's Preparatory and Continuing education programs, Village Harmony, Yiddish New York, KlezKanada and KlezFest St. Petersburg. Most recently she represented the U.S. in an extensive concert tour of Eastern Europe sponsored by the State Department, and was a member of Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of Klezmer, a national Pew Fellowship project led by Susan Watts and performed at Philadelphia's Annenberg Center. She has been featured with many other of the top ensembles and performers in the klezmer and Yiddish world, including the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Theodore Bikel, Michael Winograd's Honorable Menschn, Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, and Frank London's Klezmer All-Stars.
Jacob Stone has been playing acoustic music since the “folk scare” of the 1960’s, he took up the five-string banjo about thirty years ago. He plays “Scruggs-style” three-finger bluegrass banjo, but his repertoire goes far beyond traditional bluegrass to old-time dance music, Celtic fiddle tunes, folk songs, ragtime, and even the occasional Grateful Dead song. He believes that bluegrass banjo picking can work with virtually any musical genre.
Before moving to Vermont a few years ago he was a founding member of the Pennsylvania band Faith and Practice, and has played with numerous other groups in Pennsylvania, California and Alaska. He currently plays with the Vermont Fiddle Orchestra. He and his wife Gretta also help lead a monthly community jam in Montpelier.
Dana has made a living as a singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist since 1995. The duo Dana and Susan Robinson has toured for more than twenty years, bringing to audiences near and far its unique blend of original songwriting and traditional Appalachian music. Dana is a former Executive Director of the Summit School and is now the Executive Director of Cabot Arts. www.robinsongs.com
Art Edelstein is a fingerstyle guitarist specializing in Celtic music and has five albums to his credit. Art uses a variety of “alternate” guitar tunings in his playing. He has studied with guitarists Martin Simpson, Pierre Bensusan, El McMeen, Steve Baughman and Seth Austin. He has written extensively on the subject of Celtic music and guitar for music magazines and is the author of a biography on the Irish harper/composer Turlough Carolan. He currently performs as part of the Borealis Guitar Duo.
Ira Friedman (Beginning Afro-Cuban and Haitian Hand Drumming)
Ira began playing the piano at age four. Hi passion for music led him to study 2 years of Classical and Jazz performance at The University of Southern Maine School of Music and 2 years at William Patterson University. For the last 16 years Ira has been studying hand drumming and playing for Cuban and Haitian dance classes. With 20 years teaching experience Ira currently maintains a busy schedule of performing, composing, recording and teaching music full time.
Mark Greenberg (Beg./Int. Banjo Explorations and Beg. Bluegrass Banjo)
Mark Greenberg is a musician, educator, writer, and proprietor of Upstreet Productions, specializing in traditional folk music and oral history. He was a co-founder of the Philadelphia Folk Workshop and member of the Lake Country String Band, Coco & the Lonesome Road Band, The Join Chiefs of Bluegrass, and Dave Van Ronk’s Kazoo-o-phonic Jug Band. He currently plays with Good Old Wagon and Anything Goes. Mark has taught courses in American music history at Goddard College and the University of Vermont. He was the text editor of, and a writer for, the JVC-Smithsonian/Folkways Video Anthologies of Music and Dance of The Americas, and has produced recordings for Doc Watson, Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Michael Doucet, and others. For more information about Mark Greenberg: www.upstreetproductions.com
Aaron Marcus (Beg./Int. Flatfoot and other Percussive Step Dance Styles)
Aaron draws on a rich background of music and dance traditions including New England contra, classical piano, English country dance, Swedish, West African, Irish, and Old Time. Aaron is well-known to traditional dancers throughout the country for their performances with Giant Robot Dance, Frost and Fire, and Gift of the Marcii--and throughout Central Vermont with The Turning Stile and Keys to the Cellar. Their recent CD with Frost and Fire, Midwinter Spring, has received much critical acclaim, and showcases a number of Aaron's original compositions. As one of the one of the only dancers in Vermont of the southern Appalachian flatfoot tradition, Aaron has recently become involved in teaching this and other percussive dance traditions. Aaron lives in Montpelier, VT, where they work as an endangered-species botanist.
Colin is a full-time record producer, songwriter, composer and performer with a constantly growing catalog of songs, compositions and production credits to his name. He has taught songwriting workshops and residencies for more than a decade in the region; and is constantly listening to, writing, editing, recording and absorbing songs. Colin lives along the Kingsbury branch of the Winooski river with his wife, children's novelist Laura Williams McCaffrey, and two daughters.
Kathleen Moore is a dancer and a musician who has been a participant, performer, and teacher of a variety of folk styles since the 1990s. Kathleen loves dance of all kind, and finds Cajun dancing to be particularly entrancing. She learned Cajun dance from teachers Michael Seider, Corey Porche, and Jim Philips -- and anyone she ever danced with on the dance floor. She has performed with the Green Mountain Cloggers, the Kitchen Sync Cloggers, and the Green Mountain Volunteers. She has studied percussive dance with noted tap and flat-footing performer Ira Bernstein and with Rhythym in Shoes choreographer and dancer Sharon Leahy. She also studied Cajun and Zydeco dance with Michael Seider of Jefferson, Louisiana, and Corey Porche of Lafayette, Louisiana. Her 15 minutes of fame came when she performed at Lincoln Center Out of Door with Bessie-award-winning Choreographer Johanna Boyce. Kathleen's current dance obsession is Ecstatic Dance where she can mingle multiple styles in infinite tantalizing combination. In addition, Kathleen plays guitar, bass, and ukelele and is currently performing with Kick 'Em Jenny, a six-piece string band specializing in old-time and Cajun music.
Benedict Koehler and Hilari Farrington
The Irish music that Hilari and Benedict most enjoy is played at a lovely relaxed pace around the kitchen table with friends, and they have helped to create a vibrant Vermont Irish music scene where music is played in the older, traditional style rather than at the turbo-charged pace of some modern bands.
Respected across North America as teachers and performers, Benedict and Hilari’s East Montpelier home is a noted gathering place for musicians from all over the world. In addition to teaching at the Summit School, they are founders of the Vermont School of Irish Traditional Music where they sponsor workshops, concerts, and teach Irish repertoire. In their “day jobs” Benedict makes uilleann bagpipes, and Hilari teaches a humanities course on Ireland at CCV in Montpelier.
Says... "All I know is that I was born in New York State and failed to grow up in Philadelphia. I've been writing songs and trying them out on people prenatal through prehistoric since 1971. I've performed in a tennis stadium in Lima, Peru, in theatres in Russia, Latvia and Ecuador, in schools, colleges, child care and senior centers around the United States, in clubs, coffeehouses and prisons and on tour with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, to name a few settings. My musical locales and audiences continue to expand, and I give songwriting workshops and residencies in schools and at conferences throughout the country." www.jongailmor.com
I also call and/or play in other settings: Schools, libraries, private events (parties, weddings, funerals, etc.), village fairs, and more. I'm able to call and play at the same time and lead dances as a solo fiddler/caller, sort of like what one thinks of as a "dancing master" of the nineteenth century. I know a goodly number of easy circle, longways set, and contra dances and singing games which are well suited to situations where total beginners of any and all ages take part. Many of these events are outside the regular contra dance scene. I love working in them and believe that they're the source of many of the contra dancers of the decades to come.
In a larger sense, I see myself as a member of a number of social dance scenes in New England, New York State, and the Northwest.
I keep practicing and learning other people’s favorite tunes, hoping I can stay on people’s lists as a hirable musician. When I'm over 90 years old, I'd like to be playing and calling and considered a solid band member and not a creaky and grouchy old relic being dusted off for "legacy" events, nostalgia trips, or homage to the past.
Alec Ellsworth plays his fiddle and sings from the small mountains of Central Vermont. He grew up in the dance halls of New England, where he fell in love with traditional music and dancing. After biking across the US with a fiddle on his back, he fell in love with the music of the South, and has since spent much time learning traditional tunes. Over the summer of 2012 he received a grant to study traditional American fiddle styles, and he spent the summer learning from some of our great cultural proprietors. He now uses his fiddle and voice in dance halls, farmers markets, living rooms and street corners across the U.S.
Ellen Cooke has an eclectic dance background ranging from training in classical ballet, modern dance, foot and body percussion. She was a member of The Kitchen Sync Cloggers and has studied percussive technique with Eileen Carson of the Fiddle Puppets, Sharon Leahy of Rhythm In Shoes and Sandy Silva. Over the years she has choreographed 2 operas, musicals for high school and community theater. Ellen has taught clogging for the Summit School Trad camp for several summers She is lives in Marshfield on a lovely farm.